Clifford P. Kubiak

University of California, San Diego

Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type: Member (elected 2020)


Clifford Kubiak is an inorganic chemist known for his work on the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide and studies of electron transfer in inorganic mixed valence systems.  He is known particularly for the design and mechanistic studies of molecular electrocatalysts that are selective for reduction of CO2 in water, where competing reduction of protons to hydrogen is both a lower potential and mechanistically simpler process.  Kubiak was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and grew up in central Connecticut and upstate New York.  He graduated from Brown University in 1975 with the Sc. B. degree in chemistry, and from the University of Rochester in 1980 with a Ph. D. in chemistry.  He was a postdoctoral fellow in semiconductor photoelectrochemistry at M. I. T., and joined the faculty of Purdue University in 1982.  He moved to UC San Diego in 1998 where he holds the Harold C. Urey Chair in Chemistry and is Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

Research Interests

Clifford Kubiak’s laboratory is engaged in studies of inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, and nanomaterials.  His research group has been investigating the chemistry, electrochemistry, and photochemistry of carbon dioxide since 1987.  The catalytic reduction of carbon dioxide is a topic of considerable current interest in the field of artificial photosynthesis, where researchers seek to develop light harvesting materials and catalysts for the chemical conversion of carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight to liquid fuels.  Kubiak has been a Principal Investigator of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) since its inception in 2010.  Kubiak also has a long-standing interest in inorganic mixed valency, especially systems where rates of intramolecular transfer occur on the picosecond time scale and give rise to coalescence of infrared spectra in a manner reminiscent of dynamic NMR, but on a time scale that is a billion times faster.  Kubiak was one of the first inorganic chemists to work in the area of molecular electronics.  He was a member of a research team that made the first direct measurements of the electrical resistance of individual molecules by scanning probe methods. 

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